Tsunku's announcement of vocal-cord removal stuns fans

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

A shocking announcement by a popular singer and music producer has caused a big commotion, in particular among young people.

Tsunku, known for his husky voice, is the leader and vocalist of the group Sharam Q.

On Saturday, he was invited onto the stage for this year’s entrance ceremony at Kinki University in Osaka, and the new students were expecting him to sing some of his hit songs.

Tsunku, a graduate of the university, instead stood there in silence, smiling. Then a big monitor displayed his message: His vocal cords have been removed due to life-threatening cancer.

“I’ve chosen to live by throwing away my voice, the thing I had treasured most,” the message read, surprising the students. “Regret would have no meaning. I will go forward from now on.”

Tsunku is also well-known as the producer of the idol group Morning Musume, one of the most popular music acts in the late 1990s.

Tsunku’s group Sharam Q has generated several huge hits, including “Single Bed” and “Zurui Onna” (“Sly Woman”).

“Having lost my voice,  I am now a freshman who is starting to lead (a new life), just as you are,” his message to the incoming students said.

Footage of the entrance ceremony has been repeatedly aired by television stations, generating a great deal of sympathy.

As of Monday, more than 2,200 messages had been posted to his blog, most of which praised his courage for deciding to undergo the dramatic operation and for going public with it.

“I’m fighting a disease, too. I’m one of your fans,” said a message posted Monday by someone with the user name Sacchin.

“I’m proud of you, other members of Sharam Q and your fans. I will be a person who feels no shame about oneself and will be on par with you,” the message said.